I’m sure the Contrarian Free Speech Warriors on our nation’s op-ed pages will be right on this:
After initially appearing to defend the free speech of Randa Jarrar, an associate professor of English who tweeted that the late former first lady Barbara Bush was “an amazing racist” who raised a “war criminal,” Fresno State University said Wednesday that it would investigate her. “A professor with tenure does not have blanket protection to say and do what they wish,” Fresno State president Joseph Castro said during a news conference. “We are all held accountable for our actions.” In an earlier statement shared online by Fresno State, Castro said that Jarrar’s views were “obviously contrary to the core values of our university,” but that she’d been speaking as a private citizen.
I mean, I don’t know if it’s bad as a sophomore calling Taco Tuesday “cultural appropriation,” but it’s pretty bad. This is clearly political speech protected by the 1st Amendment and principles of academic freedom. This isn’t a monarchy. There’s no requirement to be “respectful” of public figures and there’s no de mortuis nil nisi bonum exception to the First Amendment. That admin felt there was any need to “investigate” this is chilling in itself, and if you don’t think that this is a slam-dunk case you don’t really care about free speech on campus.
[new york times building]
me: [chanting] column, column-
james bennet: column, COLUMN
bari weiss: [yelling over the loudspeaker as she bangs on the keyboard] COLUMN, COLUMN, COLUMN pic.twitter.com/Qzr5RIMev8
— Ashley Feinberg (@ashleyfeinberg) April 19, 2018
If Weiss chooses to write about Portman’s exercise of her free speech rights after her inevitable column defending Jarrar, I assume it will be to praise Portman for protesting the recent tendency of the Israeli government to no-platform protestors with live ammunition. Right? Right?